SSA Swag

A classmate from my high school must have found my Facebook and put me back on my high school alumni list because a month ago I got an e-mail that the president of my high school was doing a swing down the West Coast. Since one of the meetups was only two blocks from where my girlfriend works, I decided to drag my unemployed ass to see what’s what.

(I managed to sneak in with jeans and sneakers, both of which violated the dress code of the building the meetup was in as well as would have earned me enough disciplinary reports to get detention in my high school — but part of being voluntarily unemployed is not giving a shit.)

It was a small gathering and, as my generation is a bunch of slackers, I had zero overlap with any of the people there, which is fine. But it was a nice reminder of how privileged an education I had — since my graduation, they’ve gone fully co-educational, built a hockey rink and an art center, now charge more in tuition that my college did, and they’re experimenting with full-time boarding — the last showing that the country day movement ends not with a bang, but a whimper.

They’re also starting up fundraising to build a science center and currently perform among the top in the nation in the science olympiad. What a weird journey it’s been from when I had to take a physics olympics test with only 1/3 of the curriculum so that the department could win a He-Ne laser and the computer science prize only had three eligible people the year I won it (and a single one the next).

I’m told, SWAG stands for “Something We All Get.” and on the way out, they gave me some swag:


SSA Swag
San Francisco, California

Sony DSC-RX1
1/80 sec @ f/2, iso 1250, 35mm

Since I burn through keychains, I’ll be changing to this one. I own a lot of fitted baseball caps, so the cap will probably just come out for golfing—if I ever use it. I am not sure what to do with the magnet.

Just to see my ROI, I found the school webstore, where I found the hat and keychain selling. For those counting at home, I made $20 off the endeavor after accounting for the 15% store debut discount. Sweet!

Looking at the stuff for sale reminded me of three stories from my past…

The first was the only sweatpants they had back then were heather gray Champion sweats that said “Property of SSA Athletic Department.” This was not a small personal trauma in middle school (and most of high school) as the smallest size available was a Mens Small which I’d estimate was about 4-5 inches too long on both inseam and the waist for my tiny frame. I dreaded cold fall and spring days in Pittsburgh, of which there were many, and I took drama instead of sports during the winter season just to avoid the bulk of it. I still have a pair of them that I wear from time to time even though I’ve worn a hole in one of the pant legs and it fits a little small due to over two decades of cotton shrinkage.

The second was that the official athletic shirt back then was actually two cotton t-shirts sewn together. The outer one was blue and the inner one yellow so that you could distinguish teams in scrimmages. However, not everyone remembered to wear the shirt so we’d often go “shirts and skins.” I was skin-and-bones back then and it was a minor trauma every time I got picked to be the yellow side, which was often because scrimmaging is all you do in junior varsity.

The last was that when I found out I got in to SSA Middle School, my brother and his friends drilled me in the backyard because there was no way his little brother would fail the physical fitness test and be stuck in PhysEd.

(It didn’t matter because for those three years of Middle School, D— suggested we add five when counting each other’s sit-ups during the test. That’s the one thing you definitely learn going to an elite preparatory academy: how to cheat and get away with it.)

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